Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts in Music provides a humanistic approach to the study of music as a significant part of human tradition and culture. This degree program provides broad liberal arts preparation with significant study in music. The structure of the degree program offers students several avenues to pursue individual interests in music as preparation for careers in music or music-related fields.  In consultation with an adviser, students complete an elective emphasis appropriately focused on their area of interest.

Preparation for the major involves competency and/or coursework requirements in theory, ear training, and piano.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Musical Literacy. Students will demonstrate skill in reading, notating, and transcribing music by ear. Students will demonstrate critical listening abilities through describing, analyzing, and articulating artistic and perceptual aspects of music.
  2. Performance. Students will demonstrate applied performance skills through expressive instrumental or vocal performances and/or improvisation.
  3. Critical Understanding of Historical, Cultural, and Aesthetic Contexts. Students will be able to apply historical and cultural knowledge and aesthetic judgement in order to articulate significance and meaning in music within diverse contexts.
  4. Effective Communication. Students will be able to express themselves articulately in writing and speech to fellow musicians and non-musicians in a variety of contexts.
  5. Technology Literacy. Students will demonstrate skill in using technology to capture, create, and manipulate sound in musically compelling ways.

Music (B.A.) — 42-48 units

Advising Requirement

Students are required to schedule an advising session with a Music faculty member every semester.

Concert Attendance Requirement (0 units)

All Music majors must enroll in MUS 150 every semester for up to eight semesters.

Lower-Division Core (12-15 units)

MUS 130/TH A 131The Foundations of Music Theory0-3
or Examination

Theory (6 units)

Select two:

MUS 231Species Counterpoint3
MUS 232Diatonic Harmony3
MUS 233Chromatic Harmony3
MUS/TH A 234Modern Musicianship: Theory, Application, and Ear Training I3
MUS/TH A 235Modern Musicianship: Theory, Application, and Ear Training II3

Ear Training (4 units)

Select two:

MUS/TH A 221Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship I2
MUS 222Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship II2
or MUS 270 Improvisation

Piano (2 units)1

MUS 201Class Piano I1
MUS 202Class Piano II1
or MUS/TH A 206 Beginning Jazz/Pop Piano

Upper-Division Core (24 Units)

MUS 542GWMusic in Culture and Context - GWAR3
MUS 598Senior Thesis3
18 units completed from the following categories (6 units per category) in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Theory and Practice

MUS 433Introduction to Music Technology2
Additional 4 units selected from MUS 405 - MUS 4774

History and Literature

Select 6 units from MUS 501 - MUS 559 (excluding MUS 542)6

Instruction and Ensembles

Select 6 units from MUS 371 - MUS 390 16

Upper-Division Electives (6-9 units)

Select 6-9 units of coursework numbered above MUS 299 in consultation with a Music faculty advisor.

Note: A minimum of 30 upper-division units must be completed for the degree (including upper-division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper-division units required for graduation. In this case, additional upper-division courses will be needed to reach the required total.

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in Music. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than MUS and not cross-listed with MUS. Music majors will be offered several pathways toward completing this requirement, each of which is designed to facilitate graduation in a timely manner. Music majors may, with the approval of a program advisor, satisfy the Complementary Studies requirement by completing 12 units in a single foreign language of their choosing; 12 units from courses taken in a study abroad program; 12 units from courses taken as partial completion of a second major, minor, or certificate; or 12 units from courses in related disciplines. Related disciplines typically include theater, dance, cinema, broadcast and electronic communications, creative writing, journalism, kinesiology, physical education, health education, holistic health, biology, elementary education, English, history, anthropology, business, and journalism. Up to 12 units of Complementary Studies may count toward the major for courses that are related to music, as determined by a major advisor.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music requires completion of the University General Education requirements, 45 units of requirements in music appropriate to the degree emphasis, which includes concert attendance (MUS 150), and additional elective units for a total of 120 units. Additional elective units may be taken in Music, but a maximum of 60 units in Music may be counted towards the 120 units required for graduation.


  • Lower-division preparation for the Bachelor of Arts in Music should be completed during the first two years of study at SF State.
  • Lower-division preparation in music must be completed prior to enrollment in upper-division Music coursework.
  • Students must enroll in MUS 150 (0 units) each semester in residence up to and including eight semesters.
  • A grade of C or better is required for all Music courses in the Bachelor of Arts in Music major.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

  1. In order to choose your English Composition A2 course and your QR/Math B4 course, please complete the online advising activities at and Questions? Contact Gator Smart Start.
  2. Select the row that matches your English course choice for A2.*
  3. Select the column that matches your QR/Math course choice for B4.
  4. Click the Roadmap that lines up with your row and column.

For example, if you select ENG 104/ENG 105 and a multi-semester QR/math sequence for your first year, then choose Roadmap D.

Course Choice One-Semester Course Two-Semester Sequence or Support Course
ENG 114 Roadmap A Roadmap C
ENG 104/ENG 105 Roadmap B Roadmap D

* Composition for Multilingual Students: If taking ENG 209 as your first English course, choose the ENG 114 row. If taking ENG 201 or ENG 212 for your first English course, choose the ENG 104/ENG 105 row.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Music. This roadmap opens in a new tab.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Music

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.